Strawberry Girl by: Lois Lenski

Strawberry Girl

By: Lois Lenski

1946 Newbery Medal

The first thing I do every Saturday morning is jog over to Mr. Schu’s blog and check out his Newbery Video. He always look forward to hearing his chatty videos.

#bookaday Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski- I kind of liked this crazy #nerdbery. @mrschureads


The Year of the Book by: Andrea Cheng

Big thanks to Teresa Rolfe Kravtin for providing me with a copy of this lovely book.

The Year of the Book

By: Andrea Cheng

The Year of the Book

I decide to read books for different reasons: a recommendation from a student, a review on Nerdy Book Club, a featured book trailer from Watch.Connect.Read., a beautiful review at Teach Mentor Text, a Twitter conversation (this list could really go on for a long time). The reason I decided to read The Year of the Book was for one reason and one reason only: the cover. Let’s be honest, we all judge some books by the cover (I tend to judge publishers this way as well). Any book that includes the covers of some of my favorite books like Where the Wild Things Are and The Mixed Up Files, is a book that I am going to move to the top of my to-read pile. Teacher-librarian, John Schu, said the cover reminded him on Laurel Snyder’s Penny Dreadful. That sealed the deal for me.

Once I opened The Year of the Book, I quickly fell in love with Anna, and her journey to understand friendship. I loved how she turned to books for guidance, and I was tickled by her relationship with a crossing guard. I cannot wait to hand this book to a fourth grader in the fall.

Many students in the elementary school that I teach in are Japanese. Their fathers come to America to work for 2-5 years, and their children attend the public school Monday – Friday, and then they attend Japanese school on Saturday. I cheered (out loud) when I found that Anna attends Chinese school on the weekends in The Year of the Book. Yay! I’m glad that ALL students will better understand what school is like for students from cultures different than their own.

This book didn’t knock my socks off, and it didn’t have me on the edge of my seat. I was able to put it down while I did some chores, and I didn’t cry while I read it. Usually, it takes one of those things for me to give a book 5 stars. Not in this case. I can’t stop thinking about Anna, I can’t wait to share this book with fourth graders, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. The Year of the Book is a Book that has a nice little nook in my heart. A nook where I’m sure Anna would love to curl up with a good book.

I guess in this case, judging a book by its cover, proved to be a smart move.

Reading Along I-94: The Lions of Little Rock, Part 4

Each week Jen Vincent and I talk books. For the month of June we are chatting about The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine.

COLBY: One reason that I love The Lions of Little Rock so much is because I feel that it is a piece of high quality historical fiction that I could easily sell to my 4th grade readers.

Jen, if you were book talking The Lions of Little Rock to a middle grade reader what would you say? What about the book would you be sure to tell them about?

JEN: If I was talking to your students from this school year, (who I know have read Hound Dog True by Linda Urban) I would ask them to remember Mattie Breen and how we read about her being brave when it was really hard for her to be brave. Then I would tell them about Marlee and about how she is like Mattie and has to be really brave, except her story is about more than just her.

If I was talking to students who haven’t read Hound Dog True, then I would start by asking them to think about a time in their lives when they were scared to do something – maybe it’s being scared to ride a bike without training wheels, maybe it’s being scared to raise their hand in class, maybe it’s being scared to sleep in a strange place, or maybe it’s being scared to jump off of the high dive just like Marlee in Lions of Little Rock. Then I would ask them to tell me about how they overcame their fears or what would they need to help them overcome their fears.

And then I would introduce Marlee and explain that Lions of Little Rock is about how making a new friend – someone who was very different from Marlee – helped her get over her feelings of being scared. Her friend gave her strength by believing in her.

How would you booktalk Lions of Little Rock?

COLBY: I would sell them on Marlee. She is such an interesting, important, and amazing character, that I think she could sell the book no problem. You are right, she will reminds readers so much of Linda Urban’s Mattie Breen.

I would love to talk about Liz in my booktalk. I would tell my readers that she has a secret that will knock their socks off and send the book into a frenzy. Fourth graders LOVE secrets, and they want desperately to read about them.

JEN: That’s a good one! I think brains like to figure things out, so when we know there is a secret we are desperate to figure it out and have answers. That would be a great way to hook kiddos!

COLBY: Thanks for talking about The Lions of Little Rock with me this month. I’m looking forward to reading and discussing our July book together.

Newbery Update

This is my first ever post from my iPod Touch. I hope it turns out okay.

Please check out Mr Schu’s latest Newbery video on his blog: Watch.Connect.Read.

I am do excited to see how his Newbery video from ALA turned out.

Since I am a book ahead on my videos, I’m going to just post an update today. I filmed it from a roller coaster and I’m not sure how it turned out (I was very nervous about the ride).


Babymouse For President Contest Reaches the Home Stretch

I have the giveaway copies for the Babymouse for President photo contest. All I need is your picture entries.

Babymouse has visited the White House, Mount Rushmore, water parks, and libraries. It is not too late to enter your pictures in the Babymouse for President Photo Contest, but time is running out. All pictures are due Sunday, July 1, at 8 PM EST.

More information provided below.

Babymouse is running for president. We at Nerdy Book Club, have decided to show our support by launching a massive campaign blitz and giveaway.

We need pictures of you and/or your family and friends reading Babymouse. Going on vacation? Be sure to take a copy of Babymouse with you. Going to the grocery store? Take Babymouse along in the shopping cart. Running in a 5k? I’m sure Babymouse would love to jog with you.

Mr. Colby Sharp will be giving away at least 10 copies of Babymouse For President. You can enter one of two ways:

1. Send your picture(s) to Babymouse’s unofficial email
2. Tweet your pictures using the hashtag #babymouse4prez

All pictures must be submitted by Sunday, July 1, 8  P.M. EST. Winners will be announced the day Babymouse for President hits stores, July 10.

The lovely and talented Jennifer L. Holm has assembled a rock star casts of judges for this contest. Each judge will select one winning picture. The remaining winners will be chosen at random using Each picture counts as an entry.

Interview: Rose Cooper

I am so excited to interview author Rose Cooper today. Before we get to the interview I hope you visit  Mr. Schu’s blog to check out the world premiere of the book trailer to her new book.

Isn’t the trailer phenomenal? Before we get to the interview we have one more step: Rose’s Nerdy Book Club Post. Just click on her picture below to learn all about how much Rose LOVES reading.

Your Blogtastic Novels are written in a journal form. What makes your books different?

It might be in journal form, but it’s not a journal. And it’s definitely not a diary. It’s a pre-blogging notebook. The main character, Sofia, writes down information she “accidentally” overhears so she can later post about it on her anonymous blog. The idea being…if the blog becomes super popular, she can use that to her advantage and write about her and her friends which could make them popular. Each book in the series focuses on one way that information can be passed around (Gossip, Rumors, Secrets) and how that can create problems for everyone.

Why should teachers/librarians run to the bookstore and purchase your books?

The Blogtastic Novels are fast paced and include funny illustrations that break up the text. Kids who might not have the patience to sit through longer books seem to enjoy the mix of pictures and text, as do reluctant readers. Kids can easily relate to the middle grade characters and it touches on subjects in a humorous way, such as bullying, friendships, first crushes, fitting in and family relationships, without being preachy.

What do you want kids to take away from your books?

I would love for kids to see how a simple thing like Gossip can do more harm than good. It can start off silly and fun but quickly turn bad. Especially when you put something on the internet because then it could really affect others. I would also love if kids could see how it’s not about being popular that matters but having a few good friends that you can really count on.

I love that you are a self taught artists. What advice would you have to kids out there that are  doodling away in their notebooks?

Keep doodling! You never know when it will become something more. Every creative person expresses themselves differently and whatever you’re passionate about, keep practicing and never be afraid to push yourself.

What are three books (other than your own) that you think every middle grade reader should be exposed to?

This is tough. There are so many excellent books out there, But if I had to name three, they would be:

  1. Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  About a boy with a facial deformity and how he attends a public school for the first time. It really pulls at the heartstrings and it does an amazing job showing how bullying can affect a kid and how hard it can be trying to fit in.
  2. Suddenly Supernatural l (series) by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel: These books are fun, entertaining, and show a little bit of history in each book. It also touches the importance of the main characters relationship with her mom, who just so happens to a medium.
  3. Holes by Louis Sachar: This is a great book that has been around for a while. The story of a boy and how his bad luck ends him in a juvenile detention center…digging 5 foot holes in dried up soil under the scorching sun. Along with adventure, you get a great sense of friendships and teamwork.

Okay, I must ask. I read something on your blog about how the only time you have ever flown in a plane you jumped out of it. Care to elaborate?

On a whim, I went skydiving. That was the first time I had even been close to a plane and it was tiny. It held only about 8 people.  I jumped out at 14,000 feet and it was amazing!. But I would still love to fly someday, in a larger plane and actually land.

Thank you so much Ms. Cooper for answering my questions!!!!

Thank you so much! I enjoyed all your questions!


I am giving away a set of Rose’s Blogtastic Novel series. The lucky winner will receive a copy of Gossip From the Girls’ Room, Rumors From the Boys’ Room, and an advanced readers copy of Secrets From The Sleeping Bag.

Rules for the Giveaway
* The contest runs from June 24 to June 27 at 11:59 PM EST. 
* You must be at least 13 to participate.

Title Talk: Series

I hope everyone joins me on Sunday night for Title Talk at 8 PM, EST. I’m excited that this month I will be co-hosting with Jen Vincent and Katherine Sokolowski. Our topic this month is series.

My Lovely Guest Co-Host:



Questions that I’m thinking about as Title Talk fast approaches:

Why are series important?

How do series help readers?

Are there any drawbacks to series?

What are the best series?

If you are new to Title Talk please feel free to leave a question in the comments and I will be sure to answer before the big chat. Remember to use and follow the hasthtag: #titletalk.

The following video is a nice tutorial of Tweetchat. I use Tweetchat for each and ever Twitter chat that I participate in.

Reading Along I-94: The Lions of Little Rock, Part 3

Each week Jen Vincent and I talk books. For the month of June we are chatting about The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine.


JEN: I love the friendship between Marlee and Liz. Liz is such a bold character. She and Marlee seem to make an unlikely pair but Liz’s friendship ends up helping Marlee from being so shy.

COLBY: Liz is such a strong young lady. Thinking about how different they are and how well their friendship works makes me smile.

JEN: Liz really believes in Marlee and helps her get ready for their class presentation. They really work together. Liz gives Marlee ideas and support and helps her practice. Marlee wants to try her hardest so she won’t let Liz down.

COLBY: It’s amazing how having someone believe in you can help you face and overcome your fears. Liz did such an amazing job of not trying to push Marlee too hard and supporting her as Marlee tried to defeat her demons.

JEN: What do you think about a friend or another person being able to influence someone in such a way? I would like to think that I live my life not hinging things on what other people think, but the truth is that I have a lot of people who I want to be proud of me. I really believe people have the power to make a big impact in our actions. I really felt like Liz and Marlee’s relationship really illustrates that.

COLBY: It’s amazing to me what people will do to try and make someone they love proud of them. I think that is a healthy way to be influenced by someone. It’s when we want to impress people that sometimes we run into problems. When I try to impress people that I look up to, I sometimes do things for the wrong reasons, but when I try to make people that I love proud, I’m usually doing something positive.

JEN: Oh! I just realized this is basically what Stephen Layne meant when he talked about balcony people at IRA. Balcony people are people who are support your and cheer you on. They are people who see the potential you have to be or do anything and they give you a nudge in that direction. I don’t know how often our balcony people are our peers – especially as kids. Liz and Marlee seem to be exactly the friend that they each needed.

Name one person who has been in your balcony and helped you like Liz helps Marlee. And what or how has he or she helped you?

COLBY: Hmm…I guess I would have to say Donalyn Miller. It’s so crazy for me to be friends with such an amazing educator. When I first got on Twitter and started interacting, I think that I wanted to try to impress Donalyn. As our friendship has developed, I feel like I now want to make her proud. She is someone that I’m not afraid to admit my weaknesses to, and as a result she has helped me tremendously as a teacher.

How about you?

JEN: My parents are always supportive me and any of my crazy ideas or endeavors or adventures. My husband is, too, although he’s sometimes less enthusiastic because most of the time it means more work for me and that means more work for him. I’m always jumping into things. Actually, he does the same thing so it works out.

When I think back on my whole teaching career – even into high school when I was deciding what I wanted to major in – there has been someone along the way who says, “You know, you should try this.” Or “Have you ever thought of doing this?” And I stop and think, and then I realize most of the time that what they are suggesting makes total sense. I just seem to have people in the right place at the right time to give me a little nudge and then I go off and running.

I’ve tried lately to be this person to other teachers. The person who says, “Have you ever thought about this?” Or “What if you tried this?” Sometimes you need another person to think ahead or think outside the box for you. Someone who gives you a little nudge but at the same time believes in you. I hope that even if they don’t embrace my ideas right away that maybe it’s the beginning of chipping away at their thinking in order to cause a change eventually. I am amazingly lucky to have people who believe in me and lead me in new directions. You are right, as long as people are influencing you in a good way, it’s an unbelievable force.